An important city in the Roman and early Christian period, Philippi exists today only as an archaeological site. The impressive remains of this once flourishing city on the Via Egnatia, the important Roman highway in the area, are frequently visited by modern pilgrims retracing the steps of the Apostle Paul, who started a Christian church in the city. The ruins of ancient Philippi are easy to find. The archaeological site is located in the region of Macedonia, alongside highway 12 between Kavala and Drama, next to the village of Krenides. Settlement in the area occurred as early as the Middle Neolithic period (ca. 5000 B.C.E.). In 360 B.C.E., Greek colonists from the island of Thasos, led by the exiled Athenian politician Kallistratos, founded the colony of Krenides on the site of what later became Philippi. The colony at Krenides (which means “spring,” because of the abundant streams in the area) provided the Thasians with access to the rich resources of the area, particularly its silver and gold mines. Threatened by the Thracian tribes in the area, the colonists at Krenides asked Philip II of Macedonia for military assistance in 356 B.C.E. Eager to gain control of the area, and particularly its rich resources, Philip conquered the city and renamed it Philippi in his honor. Philip fortified the city with new walls, increased the city’s population with Macedonian mercenaries, and extracted large amounts of gold and silver from the mines in the area. Although little is known of the city during the Hellenistic period, this was apparently a prosperous time for Philippi. In the 2nd century B.C.E., the Romans occupied Macedonia and turned the area into a Roman province. During the Roman period, the most i important event associated with Philippi took place. In 42 B.C.E. the forces of Octavian (later known as Augustus) and Mark Antony defeated the armies of Brutus and Cassius (the murderers of Julius Caesar) on the plains just outside the west wall of Philippi. This battle brought to an end the Roman Republic.
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